On Being a Middle Child

Kerrin - Sturbridge, Massachusetts
Entered on April 4, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in being a middle child. I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts with three sisters, so technically I’m not the middle child. I’m the second-to-youngest, third-to-oldest. I had to share my room, my toys, and I even had to share the middle. I’ve shared and compromised my whole life and I would not change it for anything.

It’s only natural for every family to have a black sheep, a child that would rather read in a corner than dance around vying for his, or her, parent’s attention. Throughout my childhood I did not seek the constant reassurance and praise from my parents that my siblings competed for. Although I grew up in the “shadow” of my two faultless sisters, I was able to sort-of slip through the cracks and define my own expectations rather than those encouraged by my parents and society. Both of my older sisters were straight-A students and talented dancers. Yet I was born with bad turn out and a lack of motivation to do schoolwork. Thus, I channeled my energies into art classes and sports. Rather than competing with my older sisters I chose to follow my own path.

I distinctly remember the year I spent an entire family Christmas party hiding behind the tree. My mother eventually found me and asked why I wasn’t playing with my sisters and cousins. I suppose I have always been more reserved than most. Shying away from the spotlight has accustomed me to a life where, rather than overachieving, I work just enough to get by. I’m okay with being average and unimpressive, I sleep better at night.

People always say it’s the quiet ones that you have to watch out for. I can’t argue. I, of course, was born with the middle-child rebellious streak. As a teenager I became less detached, and more in touch with my peers. Much to the dismay of my parents, I started drinking, smoking, and getting northern red oak leaves tattooed all over my body. Although I’d always had a small group of good friends, I finally felt as though I fit in.

By spending more time with my peers I began to value the strengths that being raised a middle child instilled in me. I learned that I had the natural ability of looking at situations from different perspectives, whereas my siblings and friends were sometimes more close-minded. Although I’m inherently unpretentious, shy, and self-conscious, I have learned to use these faults to my advantage.

The best part about being a middle child was that I wasn’t the oldest so I didn’t have to live up to expectations, and I wasn’t the youngest so I wasn’t spoiled. I like to think I had the best of both worlds growing up. I believe that being a middle child has given me the ability to be independent and think outside the box. And hey, everyone who has seen the Brady Bunch secretly likes Jan better than Marsha anyways.